NHL Rumor Mill – August 28, 2019

by | Aug 28, 2019 | Rumors | 72 comments

An update on Jesse Puljujarvi plus the latest on the Leafs in today’s NHL rumor mill.


SPORTSNET: Mark Spector believes Jesse Puljujarvi’s plan to play for the Finnish Elite League’s Oulun Karpat could benefit the Edmonton Oilers. He has until 5 pm ET on Dec. 1 to sign his qualifying offer or be ineligible for the remainder of the season. By late November he’ll have played around 24 Liiga games. If he performs well, it could help Oilers general manager Ken Holland fashion a trade.

Has Jesse Puljujarvi played his final game with the Edmonton Oilers (Photo via NHL Images).

The fourth-overall pick in the 2016 NHL draft, Puljujarvi requested a trade earlier this summer after struggling with the Oilers.

Holland admits he’s had conversations “with numerous clubs” that have had “an interest, some interest, in acquiring Jesse.” Holland added he’s had “two or three new teams reach out to me” in the last 10 days. The Oilers GM said he’ll do a deal if it’s in the best interests of his club.

If Puljujarvi stays healthy and productive in Finland, Spector believes the winger will be traded by mid-November. He feels the unhappy youngster has “almost certainly” played his final game as an Oiler.

TSN’s Ryan Ryshaug believes the Oilers’ asking price “is a prospect with top 9 F potential and a draft pick.”

SPECTOR’S NOTE: If someone steps up with that asking price, Puljujarvi will be traded. The problem is it appears no one is yet willing to make that offer. Maybe that changes if a rival club’s lack of right-wing scoring depth causes them to stumble from the gate.

As “Cousin Mark” suggests, that’ll depend on Puljujarvi’s performance and health playing in Finland through October leading up to mid-November. If he’s playing poorly or gets hurt, the winger’s trade value will hit rock bottom.


NBC SPORTS: Scott Billeck wonders how long the contract impasse between the Toronto Maple Leafs and Mitch Marner will drag on. He draws comparisons to last season’s standoff with William Nylander, which wasn’t resolved until Dec. 1. It’s believed Marner’s situation is delaying other restricted free agent signings around the league, as those players could be waiting to see what he gets on his next contract.

Marner is making plans to practice with a Swiss team if this situation drags on through training camp. Billeck believes no one knows for certain when this will be resolved.

Turning to head coach Mike Babcock, Billeck thinks a change behind the bench is possible if the Leafs fail to stage a deep playoff run next spring.

Billeck’s colleague James O’Brien notes the pressure faced by Leafs GM Kyle Dubas to get Marner re-signed and his relationship with Babcock. He also notes Dubas must eventually find new deals or replacement for defensemen Jake Muzzin and Tyson Barrie. Both are eligible for unrestricted free agent status next summer.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Marner situation could be resolved when the season opens in October. That’s when the Leafs are expected to place permanently sidelined wingers David Clarkson and Nathan Horton on long-term injury reserve. That will allow the Leafs to spend over the $81.5-million cap ceiling by up to their combined $10.5 million, which could be what it takes to get Marner under contract.

Rival RFAs could be waiting on Marner but they won’t wait for long. As training camp approaches in mid-September, I think we’ll see several signings. Most of those players won’t want to risk missing training camp or preseason play.

Babcock will certainly feel the heat if the Leafs struggle this season or suffer another first-round playoff elimination. Cap Friendly indicates he’s under contract through 2022-23 earning over $6 million annually. However, the deep-pocketed Leafs won’t flinch at replacing him before that deal expires.

As for Muzzin and Barrie, that depends upon their asking prices. The Leafs currently have over $55.4 million invested in 11 players for 2020-21. That’ll likely jump by at least $10 million once Marner is re-signed. The Leafs have only one defenseman (Morgan Rielly) under contract beyond this season.


  1. I too believe that if the Leafs are struggling by either the US Thanksgiving or do make the playoffs but get bounced again in the first round, Babcock is likely done as head coach

  2. Lyle, when you say “That will allow the Leafs to spend over the $81.5-million cap ceiling by up to their (Horton and Clarkson) combined $10.5 million, which could be what it takes to get Marner under contract.” – how does that address the fact that they are also currently $2,897,199 over the cap?

    I know they can also draw upon Dermott’s $863,333 and Hyman’s $2,250,000 until both return from injury (Dermott in late November and Hyman late October), but once they’re back and if Marner does sign for the combined $10.5 mil doesn’t that put them right back to where they are now? Close to $3 mil over?

    • At the moment, CapFriendly shows them with a full 23-man roster, and when Dermott and Hyman return the 2 to be assigned to the Marlies will likely come from this group

      D Justin Holl – $675,000
      F Pontus Aberg – $700,000
      F Garrett Wilson – $725,000
      F Nicolas Petan – $775,000
      F Kenny Agostino – $737,500

      But the combined cap hits of Dermott and Hyman ($3.113,333) is still #1,600,833 more than the two costliest ones from the above list.

      Doesn’t that Marner scenario point to a much bigger roster move at some point?

      • In addition to Clarkson and Horton, the Leafs also LTIR relief with Dermott and Hyman. They’re currently carrying eight defensemen and Dermott makes nine. Once he returns, they could demote one or two of those lower-salaried blueliners to the minors for cap relief. Once Marner signs, one of those lower-salaried forwards could also be demoted. A trade is also possible. Dubas has proven thus far this summer to be a master juggler when it comes to his cap space. He’ll come up with something to make the dollars fit.

      • Lyle
        Wasn’t the juggling to free up the space necessary to sign marner ? He hasn’t done that yet and is staring down another missed camp when it makes the most sense to shift Clarkson and Horton to ltir , I believe the day Clarkson contract was acquired was the day mitch was missing camp . He did say prior to the summer his #1 priority was to not go down that same path as willie and get mitch signed and he also said prior to Willie’s contract “to sustain success here we can’t be setting marketplace records”. Isn’t that exactly what he did on rfa market? Largest 5 and 6 year rfa contracts given out.
        He signed the tavares deal , knowing what was coming down the pipe, and to juggle the space he had to attach a 1st to Marleau , brown to zaitsev and still doesn’t have mitch signed . Are we sure he has done a great job? Yes he brought in Barrie and kerfoot , with Kadri and gardiner heading out we will see how that plays out .Spending money other teams can’t or won’t is a big advantage which he is taking full advantage of but I would think any gm in that seat could use that advantage .

      • Craig, consider where Dubas was at the start of the off-season, with two supposedly unmoveable contracts in Marleau and Zaitsev and Hainsey and Gardiner departing via free agency. Everyone expected he’d have to trade Kapanan or Johnsson, or trade Kadri for a loss. If he found a taker for Zaitsev, it was supposedly going to deplete their blueline. Some predicted he’d have to break his promise to Nylander and trade him. So far, none of that has happened. Once Marner’s signed, I think the Leafs will be a better team this season compared to last season. If Marner misses camp it could affect his play but nowhere near as much as missing the first two months of the season as well. If, as many expect, Marner gets signed once Clarkson and Horton are placed on LTIR by the opening day of the Leafs season, he’ll have both improved his roster over the course of the summer and avoided a standoff with Marner stretching into the opening weeks of the regular season.

      • Lyle
        Shouldn’t dubas have considered where they would be in the off season? Yes lou signed the Marleau and zaitsev deals , I doubt he planned or budgeted for an 11 million dollar ufa. Dubas created the cap issue he’s facing. Marleau was seen as immovable because the full no move , no one anticipated him waving , he did and it still cost a 1st to move it . Zaitsev deal a good piece of business, brown was worth losing to move that one. He hasn’t had to trade WW or anyone else yet , but marner isn’t signed yet either. IF he manages to sign marner with the roster as is then I think we can say he successfully juggled the cap. With the additions and subtractions I’ll have to see a better on ice product to believe it, I think it’s very much the same , at best . He may avoid a standoff stretching into games, he has to without moving more dollars out but I was sure getting mitch to camp was the goal. I’m just not sure dubas has earned the credit he has been receiving until we see when , where and what mitch signs for and what moves do or do not follow .

      • There’s no question Dubas handcuffed himself with the Tavares signing and I remain critical of that move. However, I have to admit he’s done a fine job juggling his cap space this summer. He’s found a creative way to free up cap room for Marner (acquiring Clarkson and placing him and Horton on LTIR), shed two bad contracts by his predecessor, and managed to improve the right side of his blueline without hurting his depth elsewhere. Again, considering where he was at the start of the summer, I think he’s done a very good job handling those issues.

      • As Sheldon Cooper might say, the math doesn’t add up. I don’t think it’s a case of “a trade might be possible” but rather “a trade is inevitable.”

      • thanks lyle for clearing it up as some people like to always look at the negative

      • Tell you what thomas, why not add to the discussion – that’s what the site is all about after all, i.e., exchange of opinions/ideas – and detail for us how exactly you see the numbers adding up. Who stays – who goes – and how do they deal with the almost $3 mil over the cap in addition to signing Marner at $10.5.

        That would be something over which to debate instead of a snide comments every few days with no substance other than your dislike for a poster.

      • Dubas did not handcuff himself with a top ten center in the league. That is silly. He handcuffed himself with a winger like nylander. It’s not even debatable that Tavares signing was the right move.

      • Tavares signing really handcuffed dubas they did not need offense, and dubas did not improve the defense it will be worse this yr, if Anderson doesn’t stand on his head the leafs will be battling for a wildcard! People think they’re a lock but they were 2 losses away from missing the playoffs last year. And they still haven’t won a playoff round in like 15 years

  3. I just posted on morning coffee side ; Leafs can address long term D issues by trading WW for up and coming young D (trending to at least eventual top four) at a much smaller Cap now.

    My explanation/rationale is long winded so I won’t re-post it here; if anybody wants they can see it in morning coffee side

    I don’t see Leafs having any chance of getting past Bolts this year so best under that scenario is out in 2 rounds …. so that’s not a deep playoff run

    That’s not necessarily on Babcock; Bolts just that good

    Now if Leafs out in one again against Bruins and/or somehow sliding to WC status …. then Babcock’s job just may be in jeopardy

    A lengthy injury to Freddy could have them slide in the standings; again not a controllable thing for Babcock

    • Pengy…Mitch Mariner is really good but is he really worth more than Matthews or Tavares… ?????


      i say move Nylander…..get some picks and sign mariner…

      • With you in that BlackNGold but instead of picks … 22-25 yr old D on the rise

      • @BlacknGold With Pengy Support:

        Ya, Trade Wee Willy IF and I do mean IF, the right offer, under the right circumstances are presented to TML Admin cuz lets face it, UNLESS NTC is in his contract, and it isn’t, he can be traded.

  4. I believe it has been reported numerous times that the leafs do not have to wait to use the financial relief the LTIR provides. That both player’s circumstances are known; they won’t play again. This allows the leafs to spend the money now and have it come off the cap at the deadline.

    So why wait to the deadline? I suspect Marners 5 year asks is the sticking point. The leafs may want to sign him to a longer term keeping him in the fold beyond matthews contract and avoid having them both turn UFA at the same time.

  5. I dont believe bancock is at risk this season to be canned. The leafs aee still structuring their team. Shoring up the D and adjusting for the cap.

    They are not quite established like a Tanpa Bay team. Babcock has at least another year to worry about that.

    • I agree, mostly. Tampa has supposedly been”winning the cup” for the last 3-4 years, and Cooper is still there. I think Leafs will do what is necessary trade wise to ensure they are not knocked out in the first round. If however they do not make the playoffs, and there are no substantial injuries to validate that performance, then Babs could be shown the door.

      • @Murph: Key point. If no substantial injuries are at play that would otherwise affect the outcome of any 7 game series in the first round; or worse still, they miss the post season under Babs watch, trust me, he won’t even get a cab dumping his sorry backside to the curb

  6. I don’t believe the Marner signing has anything to do with the defenseman who are not signed and they could be waiting on Werenski.

    apparently there is considerable interest in JP, the hold up is the asking price and who Holland considers a 3rd line player and prospect. I would think it be a young 3rd line player with upside.

    • Caper, I would think no one is going to make the kind of offer Holland expects until they see evidence that Puljujarvi isn’t just one more in a list of 1st round Edmonton draft flops like Yakopv and Pajaarvi.

      • I agree George,

        Someone used Dylan Strome in Arizona as a comparison.

        But Strome only played 48 nhl games in Arizona before being dealt to Chicago.

        PJ has played 139 nhl games and looks more like Yakopov, (or just plain Yak 🤮 )than he does Strome.

        I don’t get the appeal / hype. People get too hung up on what round someone was drafted. Eventually you have to call a turd a turd.

        Lias Andersson was picked 7th overall….. I’m just not seeing it there either.

      • Anderson straight up for Puljujarvi should be a fair trade. Edmonton looking for a 3c, which I see as Anderson’s ceiling. Puljujarvi joining Kakko and Zibinejad in Ny would help with language barrier. Zibinejad, who might end up being captain and speaks Finish, has already reached out to Kakko.

      • Honestly I wouldn’t do that either. Andersson has 49 nhl games under his belt, and has been stuck on the 4th line with Smith, McLeod, Brickley etc. not exactly guys that will help his game.

        I was using him as an example. Prospects are prospects until they’re not.

        Andersson needs either big minutes in the Ahl in all situations, or a bigger role / better teammates in NY before pulling the plug.

        He comes with less baggage, injuries , and more than a season less experience.

        I have NO desire to see Puljujarvi in NY. Especially at the cost of any center on their roster.

      • Wow, a Pajaarvi reference George. Most folks forget about that one.
        What makes the Yak pick even more frustrating for Oiler fan was that 9 of the 10 scouts wanted Murray (as reported by Lyle’s cousin so you can take it to the bank), and someone above nixed it. Was that Lowe or ownership? Not sure but Katz is the best guess by most in these parts.
        Yak would have likely been drafted 2nd and was the top ranked prospect, so plenty of hockey folks were wrong about him.
        I personally think if JP can get his head turned around that he can be an effective NHL player. A star seems highly unlikely, but when you are that big and can skate like him, there is a role for you in the NHL. If you accept it.

      • I only remembered him Ray because he spent last season flitting around the ice for the Sens, darting here – darting there – and never accomplishing anything. Small wonder no one picked him up as a UFA. And he was a 10th overall by Edmonton.

  7. Everyone is on the fire Babcock bandwagon. I don’t understand it myself. However, if these people are so smart, who would replace him????


      Watch it happen

    • Sheldon keefe

  8. Holland wants a top 9 prospect and a pick for Puljujarvi. The same Puljujarvi that cant crack the top 9 on one of the worst teams in the league?
    Good luck with that…… Jim Benning on line 1….. lol

    • This is the reason PJ isn’t traded, not because there isn’t offers, Holland has set a high price based on his draft pedigree.

    • Ron, if JP committed to playing the right way he could start the season as a 3rd line winger next season. He would get every opportunity to succeed in that role, if he put forth the work and effort.
      He doesn’t want that and thinks he deserves top 6.
      His words not mine.
      IMO that is the issue, he can play in the bottom 6 if he committed to that role and did what it takes to be a valuable player in that role.
      If he does that? Seems like some primo openings in the top 6 if he passes that test first in Edmonton. Some decent centers to play with I would say. Great opportunity if he takes it.
      The kid is making a career mistake IMO. Maybe he comes around, but my guess is he is moved as soon as he starts to play well in Finland.

  9. BTW George

    I responded (late last night) yesterday to your BR for JJ trade offer

  10. I’m still counting on IHC’s “most excellent” (in Bill & Ted’s lexicon) Kenny H/Jimmy R proposal to come to fruition:

    “to EDM: Rust ($3.5 M) & JJ ($ 3.25 M w/ $1.0 M retained)

    for :

    JP ($ ??) & Manning ($2.25 M)”

    Me likey


  11. Nick Kypreos is off sportsnet I know some didn’t like him, I wasn’t one of them.

    • I didn’t mind Kyper. Didn’t always agree with him but there was no question he was well-connected. I daresay he won’t be unemployed for long. Perhaps he’ll land with TSN or NBC Sports.

      • Maybe a special corespondent for Spectors hockey!

      • I don’t pay enough.

      • The honor would be all he needed.

      • Can I be Bureau Chief in Edmonton?

    • Hi Caper

      I’ll admit that I was one of them (not in Kyper’s camp)

      To me ; very little value added content came from his lips

      To me; he spewed random tidbits at breakneck speed with lack of cogent thought

      I certainly didn’t hate him by any stretch; I was just not entertained and/or informed; at all.

      I will definitely not miss him

      • Neither will Sportsnet. 3rd Headline on their Hockey page after Pulju and Trade Tracker…

      • Totally disagree with you Pengy, he added a lot of value also broke two trades before anyone else.
        We’ll have to agree to disagree.

      • I’d take 3 of Kypreos over one of Craig Button any day.

      • Hi Caper

        All good

        I realize I’m just one opinion

        Yep he broke two deals first but there were many flip flops and miss calls

        Either way he will land somewhere again


        For sure I’d put Kyocera ahead of Button (and of course Pierre Maguire)… but 3 to 1 ? LOL 😂

      • I will take Kypreos and Button over Hrudey.
        Button is on 1260 regularly to talk about prospects. The man spends some serious time in rinks all over NA and the world to be informed. Dude loves the game.
        Hrudey? He talks, but doesn’t really say anything.

    • I wasnt a huge fan, but he had connections, I thought he was nuts taking about the Bishop to Kinflgs rumours a few years back

  12. Would Holland consider

    Namestnikov a top 9?
    Lettieri top 9?

    To EDM: Namestnikov (40% retained) & Lettieri

    To NYR: PJ

    • Maybe, but NY shouldn’t!

    • IHC


      Ur supposed to be working with Kenny and Jimbo getting the final signatures on the JP/ Manning for JJ/Rust deal

      No alternate deals please

      My life depends on it


      • Ownerships is mulling it over


      • Atta boy IHC


  13. I think Kyper’s constant shilling of the NHLPA’s position may have been part of it. He spoke on behalf of the NHLPA without thinking of the fan’s perspective nor the owners.

    • But didn’t that offer some sort of balance which would off-set the plethora of pundits who only look at it from the owner’s and fan’s sides?

      • maybe

    • I liked Kyper; He said how he felt. Doug Maclean? Not so much

  14. Sportnet cleaning house, Doug MaClean not returning.

    • We can only hope that NHL hockey comes back to TSN in the next contract.

      • True that BCLeafFan.
        Bring Ron over as the host.

    • I would love the following changes to NHL broadcasts:

      1. No more player interviews, unless it’s for a major suspendable infraction.
      2. No more colour commentators, just play by play (and run analytical stats instead
      3. No more Don Cherry or between period analysis. I used to enjoy him (a decade or so ago) but he is so tiring now with the same schtick. I only want to hear about potential trades or needs for teams by reporters in the know (and there are very very few I.ie fridge and Bobby mack).

  15. Lots to think about : why wold anyone take JP from oilers right now? Whiner, sulky, has done nothing so far. As for Leafs, how could the Leafs pass up JT when they had the chance? That deal is in the past and was the right one. Signing Mitch to a big deal and giving him what he wants is the wrong deal for the wrong player. As for trying to fit Jake back into the frame, maybe at risk of losing someone like Kappy? that is a fool’s game and Dubas is not a fool! As for Tampa? Leafs should be able to get by them on the face of the last two years where thye were competitive-is this year five for Babs? How much of a leash does he get? Five year rebuild seems time enough to me.

  16. I agree Scuba kid did a decent job moving Patrick and Kadri but all he did was put a bandaid on the problem. Toronto has no chance signing all their UFA defenseman next year so they better pray some of their younger prospects pan out.

    • Especially someone like Dermott, Many blame Nylander’s poor season on the fact he missed all of training camp and the first 2 months of the season. Well, for very different reasons mind you, Dermott will also miss all of training camp and most of the first 2 months after coming off shoulder surgery. And he’s a D. And where Nylander was concerned, not even the benefit of training in Europe with an Austrian club made any difference, Dermott won’t even have that option, although at least he can skate well before being able to take hits.

    • Ya, Obe some issues after this season for sure. But they do have some quality assets to move for D after this season if required.
      I think they are all in for next season, deal with the rest next off season.
      Big bounce back for Nylander this season seems very possible IMO. Sounds motivated, as he should be.
      They have to be considered a top contender to win it all. Just a notch below TB in the east.

      • Teams like Toronto and Tampa are not built for the playoffs, they’re a suckers bet before the season starts and the oddsmakers know this

  17. Well Ray I see Tampa first again and Boston Toronto fighting for 2nd and 3rd I personally don’t see any other team knocking those three out. That means a Boston Toronto first round match up who wins hard to bet against the Bruins if healthy. Time will tell but God forbid if Leafs go out first round again heads will roll.

  18. Krug for Kreider…free up a little $$$ to help sign Carlo & McAvoy

    • Ny has 30+ million invested ind-men (including Girardi and Shattenkirk buyouts and a log on the left side.

      And this trade frees up 750k. If NY trades Kreider at some point, they’re looking at picks and prospects. Not another pending UFA.

  19. Is Puljujarvi not waiver eligible if he plays in Europe? Like O’Reilly?

    • Now THAT could eventually get him out of Edmonton. Something to look into.